Exploring Japanese wine (1) wine dinner at Pasania, Osaka

Website: https://pasania.osaka/

I’ve recently been in Japan for the Japanese Wine Expo held in Osaka. This event brought together 800 visitors to taste wines from 90 different Japanese wineries.

The Japanese wine scene has developed fast in recent years. When the last official map was produced in 2018 there were 332 wineries (according to the national tax agency). This is the number of wineries that are able to produce Japan wine (wine made from Japanese grapes), but not all of them do this: some also make wine from imported bulk wine or frozen juice. Now there are 486 wineries, with all but two prefectures having at least one winery.

The biggest prefectures for wine are Yamanashi, Nagano and Hokkaido. Other major winegrowing prefectures include Iwata, Yamagata, Nigata, Oita, Miyazaki, Osaka, Okayama and Hiroshima.

The most widely planted grapes are Koshu, Muscat Bailey A, Niagara, Concord and Delaware. The leading vinifera varieties are Merlot and Chardonnay, with other examples being Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Kerner, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Albariño and Semillon. Over the next few days I’ll be diving deep into Japanese wine with my write-ups.

Dinner at Pasania – Natural Wine, Spice and Okonomiyaki

Pasania is a brilliant place. It’s run by brother and sister team Yoshio and Chie Nakagawa, and they are experts in wine and food pairing. Before we got to the okonomiyaki dishes, which are cooked in front of you on a hot plate, we began with a range of appetizers.

  • Kachila (yellowfin tuna, tomato, Nepal pepper)
  • Poriyal (butternut pumpkin, fennel)
  • Achar (courgette, mint, caraway)
  • Kuzhambu (aubergine, tomato, tamarind)
  • Asazuke (turnips, kombu, lemon balm, Aleppo pepper)
  • Achar (olives, cloves, cinnamon, cardamon)

You can see from this list that the food was quite Indian influenced, and this continued with the second course, titled ‘stewed’.

  • Uppu Kari (chicken, onion, Kashmiri chilli)
  • Moelee (Spanish mackerel, coconut milk, turmeric)

Then we hit the okonomiyaki trail for the main course:

  • Yakisoba (pork, squid, vegetables, noodles)
  • Butatama (pork okonomiyaki)

The wine selection

Domaine Tetta Blanc de Pinot Noir Effervescent 2019 Okoyama
There are limestone soils here in Okoyama. This low intervention traditional method fizz is a full yellow colour with notes of apples, pears, spice and nice acidity. There’s a hint of orange peel with some nice oxidative notes. So fresh with lots of flavour as well as some naturalness in a nice way. Chiselled acidity. 92/100

Fujimara Winery Delaware Link 2022 Osaka
Delaware is a pink-skinned hybrid, commonly planted in Japan. Here it has been given some skin contact. Full gold/copper colour. Lively and complex with a little bite from some tannin. Quite harmonious with apple and pear fruit, as well as a bit of spice and some subtle savoury notes. Has some hints of floral character and cedar. 91/100

Woody Farm & Winery Albariño 2022 Yamagata
12% alcohol. Crisp, bright, fresh, pure and linear. Notes of lemon, a hint of apricot, and vivid acidity. Modern and fine, this is a pure wine with everything in place. 92/100

Coco Farm & Winery Koshu FOS 2017 Yamanashi
Coco Farm are based in Togichi, but these grapes are from Yamanashi, and FOS stands for fermented on skins. Full orange colour. Delicate and fine with a stony, mineral edge and refined pear and citrus fruit, with a bit of grip. Very fine with a nice acid line and a bit of structure, but it’s all so well balanced. 93/100

Kitani Wine Passetoutgrain 2022 Hokkaido
Kitani are based in Nara but these grapes come from Hokkaido, and it’s a blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Zweigelt, with 10% alcohol. Lovely aromatics of sweet raspberry and cherry fruit with lovely brightness. Red cherries and cranberries, with some spice, nice brightness and acidity. There’s a tiny bit of volatile acidity in the background but it works really well. 93/100

Tsuno Wine Bijou Noir 2022 Miyazaki
12% alcohol. Bijou Noir is a wonderfully named red hybrid. Some spicy ooak on the nose with a touch of vanilla, but it’s not overpowering. The palate has fresh, vibrant red cherry fruit with some raspberry notes. Focused, vibrant and fresh. The oak need some time to settle down but this is very fine. 92/100


1 Wine dinner at Pasania, Osaka

2 Wine dinner at Nakanoshima Nadaman, Osaka